chapter 3 || kai
I wake up to that fucking alarm. That goddamn beeping. The thing that makes me curse my existence even more.
I slap it off with a groan. I stare up at my white ceiling, trying to decide whether or not I should go to school. There are less than 3 days left of our junior year, and it isn’t the same without Emma.
We had plans, the 3 of us. We were going to graduate high school together, and then go on a road trip before we went our separate paths. This summer we were going to go visit colleges together.
Now that can’t ever happen. Because she’s gone. And she isn’t coming back because she fucking killed herself, killing me in the process.
When I found out what she did, I was in a state of shock. I didn’t scream or cry. Just sat in the corner of my room with all the lights off. Ryder came charging through my room later, his face streaked with tears and his hair an absolute mess. One look at his face and the dam inside me broke. We sat holding each other, tears streaming down our face, making no noise. I think we fell asleep like that too. I don’t remember much after Ryder coming in.
I shake off the flashback and reach underneath my bed, taking out the bottle of vodka I hid a couple of days ago. You know, for emergencies. I think having a crisis at 6 am counts as an emergency.
I think about what Ryder said last night, how whatever this is, is a problem. And frankly, I agree with the golden boy, but what can ya do? We swore off drugs, and physical violence is out of the question, seeing as how I’m a 5′4 tiny girl. I can pack a punch, but taking the beating I need would put me in the hospital for severe injuries.
It’s too early to be thinking, I think to myself, taking a long drink of the vodka. I’m slightly hungover from last night, but it’s not to the point where I couldn’t function, like how it was when I first drank.
“Kai! You’re gonna be late!” Mom shouts from downstairs. I shove the bottle under my bed and wipe my mouth of the remaining liquid. I tumble out of my bed, heading to the bathroom. When I go to grab my toothbrush, I spot Emma’s, the one she used when she stayed over.
“God, Em. You’re literally everywhere but here,” I groan in frustration. Everywhere I go, there’s some reminder of Emma. In this case, the toothbrush.
I finish up my morning routine before making my way down where the rest of my family is. “Hey Squirt,” I say, ruffling my little brother’s hair as I walk past the table where he’s sitting.
“Quit it out, Kai. And I’m too old to be called Squirt,” he says, pushing my hand away and scowling at me. I grab a piece of bacon from the plate, kissing my Mom on the cheek before swinging my bag over my shoulder.
“Recce, you’re 11. Squirt stays till the end of time, Squirt,” I smirk, flicking his head lightly as I walk behind him and towards the door.
Recce moans in fake pain, and Mom shoots a disapproving glance my way. “Kai,” Mom says, looking at me in the way she does when she wants me to apologize to him.
“Sorry Squirt,” I apologize before looking at Mom. “Ry’s giving me a ride, I have to get going. Or he’s gonna throw a fit about me being late.”
“Alright hun, have a good day,” Mom says, not looking away from the stove.
I walk out the door into the crisp May air. Ryder’s house is walking distance, seeing that it’s only down the street. My mom and his mom stayed in touch after college, and when Mom found out that Dad was going to have to move up to California months before I was born, she immediately told Mrs. Jensen and she got them hooked up with a house, which was right in their community.
I use my key to open Ryder’s door. “Hey, Momma J,” I call out, greeting Ryder’s mom as I walk in. I head to the kitchen, where the Jensen’s are gathered for breakfast like they do every morning.
“Hi dear.” She turns around to face me. “Breakfast?” I nod and take a seat next to Alex, Ryder’s little sister, who is the same age as Recce. It’s evident that our moms decided to have kids at the same time, both times. If that doesn’t show their relationship, I don’t know what does.
“Hey, Kai,” Alex taps my shoulder to get my attention. “Look what I can do!” Alex proceeds to get out of her seat and do a backflip, landing on her feet.
“Woah, Alex! That was great,” I smile at her, shoving another piece of bacon in my mouth. I turn my attention back to Mrs. Jensen. “Momma J, where’s Ry?” I munch on the bacon, letting the flavor coat my tongue.
“I’m right here,” Ryder announces, walking into the kitchen holding his bag in his hand. “Mom, we got to get going or we’ll be late.” Ryder takes the piece of bacon out of my hand, stuffing it in his own mouth. I shoot him a glare, too drained to fight him right now, and take another piece off the plate.
All I want to do at the moment is curl up in my bed with the bottle underneath my bed. But nope, gotta be a functioning human.
I follow him out to his car: a black Jeep Wrangler. Ryder’s dream is to own a Ford Mustang, but the Wrangler has always been my favorite car. It was Emma’s too. We both wanted to go on a road trip without the doors or the roof of the car, just like the movies.
Guess that’s another thing we’ll never get to do.
Ryder drives us to school, almost killing us on the way by how fast he was driving. “Geez, Ry. Can you go any faster?” I grab my bag out of the car, slamming the door shut. I don’t wait for Ryder to get out before making my way toward the school, wanting to hurry up and get over the day already.
He runs to catch up to me, running his hand through his hair. “I mean, I could, but I don’t think your mom would like it if I killed you.”
“No shit asshole,” I scoff at him, rolling my eyes.
“Hey,” Ryder says, spinning me to face him. “Couple more days, okay?” I nod my head. 3 days till freedom. 3 days till I get to escape this hell hole where everything reminds me of Emma.
“See you at lunch, Ry,” I say, walking away to face the day.
I drop my stuff on the lunch table, burying my head in my hands.
Even though it’s been 6 months, everyone still stares. They knew Emma was my best friend. They saw firsthand how I broke when I heard. And they think that I’m going to break again. Everyone wants to be the first to record the nerd-turned-bitch falling apart.
I’m just so tired of the same old shit.
I lift my head up to breathe and end up staring Ryder in the face. “What’s wrong?” he asks, setting his stuff across from mine and pulling out his lunch, offering me the cookie right away. I take it without hesitating. He knows that I love his Mom’s double fudge cookies, which are basically like my comfort food. And I sure could use some comfort right about now.
“What isn’t wrong,” I sigh, breaking apart the cookie and tossing a piece in my mouth. He stares at the crumbs in my hand, shaking his head in disgust. He hates how I eat my cookies. I break them apart and then put a piece into my mouth, as opposed to just taking a bite.
He gives me half of his turkey sandwich before talking. “Yeah. I feel you,” he says with a sigh. We sit with silence between us, the rest of the lunchroom buzzing with noises of all kind. I finish my half of the sandwich and retreat to the same position as earlier.
“Emma was such a slut. Glad she’s dead,” a familiar voice says. My head shoots up, searching for the voice, landing on Jack, a resident asshole jock and his friend, Trevor, another asshole jock.
I remember those two perfectly. They both asked Emma out, or more like asked her for sex, and she laughed in their faces before she said no to them. They were both in temporary shock from being rejected, which never happened to them before apparently. The shock turned into anger soon, which resulted in them spreading rumors about her, like how she slept with him and every guy in the school. She never let them get to her, but thinking about it now, maybe they did.
I rise up slowly, walking calmly toward them. I hear Ryder shout from behind me, asking me what the hell I was doing, but I was too pissed to hear golden boy out. “What the fuck did you just say about Emma?” I seethe in front of Jack and his gang of dicks.
Jack smirks. He knows he’s pushed a button. “I said, she’s a slut who deserved to die.” He rises up from his seat to face me. I’m standing less than an arm’s length away from him, my hands curling into fists. Before I know it, Jack is cupping his nose in front of me, stopping the blood from falling on the ground and the jaws of his friends behind him go slack.
When I register what I actually did, I stare Jack right in the eyes with a smirk on my face and ask, “Want to repeat that?” My hand is throbbing but at this point, I don’t care. I’d do it all over again.
“What is going on here?” a teacher asks, pushing their way through the circle of kids who currently surround us. I take a step away from Jack, letting my hand relax at my side.
“She punched me!” Jack whines, still nursing his nose. I roll my eyes. I may have physically punched him first, but he’s punched so many people emotionally and verbally. Everyone always wants to punch him, but no one has the guts too. He’s the Varsity quarterback, and at this school, they have zero tolerance for violence.
But I have no regrets.
I don’t bother arguing with him, seeing it as a waste of breath. “Kai, principal’s office. Now,” the teacher’s stern voice warns me. I roll my eyes, grabbing my bag and walking away from the scene with a slight smile on my face.
Hope you saw that Em. It was for you.
“Kai,” Mrs. Weisbrook says, folding her hands over one another. “I understand that you are grieving the loss of your friend, but this school has a zero tolerance for violence.”
I sigh but don’t say anything. Teachers just don’t get it. And of course, Jack won’t be getting in trouble, seeing as how “he didn’t throw a punch”. Not to mention he’s the favorite student of all the football loving teachers, which just happen to be most of them, including our principal.
“Seeing as there are only 2 days left of the school year and you’re already done with finals, I’m going to go ahead and suspend you for the rest of the year.” She types something on her computer, her fingers moving like lighting across the keyboard.
I study the room around her, waiting for her to speak again. To my left, a brightly colored sign says, “Don’t be a bystander, be an upstander!” Ironic. I was defending my friend, and even though she isn’t here anymore doesn’t mean that others can just shit on her like that.
She deserves more than that.
“Go home, Ms. Steele. Think about your actions.” She leans in forward, and I instantly move further back into the chair. “You’re a good kid, Kai. Don’t screw your life up by making dumb mistakes like these.” I nod in response, knowing that she just wants me to agree with her.
She goes back to typing so I grab my bag and walk out her door, knowing only one thing for sure.
It wasn’t a mistake.
Jack needed his ass to be handed to him and I’ll do it all over in a heartbeat.
I’ll do anything for Emma.